The National Learning Institute

Monthly Archives: April 2013

Corporate culture

3 Signs Your ‘Amazing’ Company Culture Actually Sucks

April 29, 2013 No Comments

Has your company culture morphed into a Frankenstein with a life of its own? It’s almost certainly distracting you and everyone else from actually doing great work.

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Common ground

Bob’s Blog: How to reach agreement when there appears to be no common ground

April 16, 2013 No Comments

When two (or more) people become quite passionate and confrontational about opposing ideas, they can be difficult to handle, particularly if it’s your role to try to get them to reach agreement.  Bob Selden relates a difficult situation he had and what he learned from it.

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Common ground

How to reach agreement when there appears to be no common ground

April 16, 2013 1 Comment

I recently spoke with someone who was having difficulty handling people who had opposing and seemingly entrenched views.  She had to help them reach agreement where there seemed to be none.

People often suggest, “Find some common ground, before discussing the differences”.  True, this is good advice, but it’s not as easy as it sounds.

My tip for handling opposing viewpoints is to first focus on the process of the communication rather than the content.

For example some years ago I was faced with one of the most challenging conflict situations I’d ever encountered.  My client had asked me to get about 40 disparate people to agree on the development of a policy (for the emerging industry sector they were managing) within one day.  The object was to agree a new policy for the development of grain fed beef in Australia and I had all of the stakeholders in the one room – farmers, wholesalers, retailers, government agencies, the minister, animal welfare groups, etc. etc. – they all had a different viewpoint.

My strategy was to:

  • split them up into 8 tables of 5 people      (comprising mixed stakeholders)
  • spend the first hour developing a set of      ground rules on how we would run the day
  • each table had to come up with their      suggestions, then I ran a plenary to draw up the final list

What was happening with the process was:

  • firstly the focus was on process (ground rules)      not content (the new policy) for the first hour
  • secondly, each table of disparate stakeholders      had to work together to achieve a result – they actually built some new      relationships and developed rapport where previously there was only      antagonism and suspicion – they actually got to know one another better
  • thirdly, the whole room could see that by      being co-operative and working together, they could achieve a result

Needless to say, we got a result at the end of the day.  We had the agreement on the new policy.

This focus on process can work equally well when you only have two or three people – just needs a little bit of creativity (and pre-planning until one becomes comfortable with it).  I’ve used this in so many different situations and contexts all over the world and it works.


Julie Andrews

9 Slightly Crazy Things That Might Make You Wildly Productive

April 16, 2013 No Comments

Break up your routine with these secret (slightly off-the-wall) tricks to jump-starting your productivity.

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Snubbed

You’ve just been snubbed . . . What now?

April 16, 2013 1 Comment

We all have those moments or occasions when we feel “down”.  How do we get out of these troughs and get back on track again?  Here’s some quick advice on how to work in the three key areas – mind, body and emotion.

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Writing a Marketable Book

A Seriously Useful Author’s Guide to Writing a Marketable Book

April 9, 2013 No Comments

A Seriously Useful Author’s Guide to Writing a Marketable Book
by Charlie Wilson, Troubadour Publishing Ltd.  2012

There are many books for authors on how to write a book and here comes another one.  I’ve now reviewed quite a few of these and Writing a Marketable Book is amongst the better ones.

For starters, author Charlie Wilson has published a number of successful books, so she immediately has credibility.  Wilson takes us through the entire gambit of authoring and publishing from a self-analysis of have we got what it takes, through to marketing and beyond.

Wilson displays an easy writing style with plenty of examples of how to and how not to succeed with your book.  Each chapter is well structured with key points (such as Try This, Remember) examples (two types unmarketable books – UMB and marketable books – MB) and a Toolkit where she invites you to set up a place for putting all the good bits of info you glean.

As the title suggests, this book emphasises the marketability of the book and the author proposes this should start right at the beginning – Thinking and Planning.  I liked the fact that the book caters (in separate sections) for fiction and non-fiction writers, including the title, content/setting, structure, characters plot etc., all the while keeping in mind the intended audience and how to sell the concept to them.

As an author myself, the key question is, “Did I learn anything new?” I have to say that I did and I’ll be putting this into practise very shortly, so that’s a good recommendation for intended readers.


Sounding confident

How to Sound Confident (Even if You’re Not)

April 9, 2013 No Comments

Give your great ideas the verbal boost they deserve with these six tips on how to sound confident.

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Social media

3 Reasons You Should Quit Social Media In 2013

April 9, 2013 No Comments

What impact does social media have on your self-esteem, health and relationships?  Here’s some interesting data …

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Ten tips for business

Ten tips for business

April 7, 2013 No Comments

Your first month as a start-up can be an incredibly exciting – and slightly terrifying – time, punctuated by sleepless nights and (hopefully) some fist-pumping first wins.

There’s no denying you’ve taken a risk if you’ve left a well-paid, secure job to stake everything on your dream business. If you’re just started your business, these ten tips for business could be very useful.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/small-business/ten-tips-for-surviving-your-first-month-in-business-20130328-2gw8k.html#ixzz2Pm7UJal1


suspended coffee

Suspended coffee

April 4, 2013 No Comments

This is a beautiful idea! It’s gone viral on Facebook, so you may have already seen it. The idea has its detractors, but I’m sure the principle behind it is a good one and the downsides can surely be managed . . .

We enter a little coffee house with a friend of mine and give our order. While we’re approaching our table two people come in and they go to the counter.

“Five coffees please, two of them for us and three suspended”. They pay for their order, take the two coffees and leave.

I ask my friend: “What are those ‘suspended’ coffees?”

My friend responds: “Wait for it and you’ll see.”

Some more people enter. Two girls ask for one coffee each, pay and go. The next order was for seven coffees and it was made by three lawyers – three for them and four ‘suspended’. While I still wonder what’s the deal with those ‘suspended’ coffees I enjoy the sunny weather and the beautiful view towards the square in front of the café.

Suddenly a man dressed in shabby clothes who looks like a beggar comes in through the door and kindly asks; “Do you have a suspended coffee?”

It’s simple – people pay in advance for a coffee meant for someone who cannot afford a warm beverage. The tradition with the suspended coffees started in Naples, but it has spread all over the world and in some places you can order not only a suspended coffee, but also a suspended sandwich or a whole meal.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have such cafés or even grocery stores in every town where the less fortunate will find hope and support?

If you own a business why don’t you offer it to your clients… I am sure many of them will like it.